Jersey yet to commit to Toilers film

JERSEY’S government has not given an indication yet as to whether it will support a Toilers of the Sea feature film which could now be shot in the island.

Joy Mellins and David Shanks, the producers of the proposed film version of Victor Hugo’s The Toilers of the Sea. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31359578)
Joy Mellins and David Shanks, the producers of the proposed film version of Victor Hugo’s The Toilers of the Sea. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31359578)

David Shanks and Joy Mellins, producers of the proposed movie based on the book written by Victor Hugo during his time living in Guernsey, shifted their attentions to Jersey after the States of Guernsey refused to offer financial support for the project.

Mr Shanks told the Jersey Evening Post that they were in ‘very early conversations’ with the Jersey authorities about potential backing for the project.

He did not say how much they would be asking for.

‘It will be a classy feature film that we hope would be up there for awards,’ he added.

Jersey’s government has a history with film funding – a decade ago it backed a proposed fantasy film, The Knights of Impossingworth, set in Jersey, with £200,000.

Hundreds of young people auditioned for roles in the movie, which later changed its name to Crystal Island, but it never went into production. It led to criticism around the management of the grant and the viability of the project in the first place.

Mr Shanks said that government funding would give the project ‘a stamp of authority and legitimacy’ which could help secure some of the estimated £10m. backing in the pipeline from private backers.

‘We are sort of starting again,’ he said. ‘We think we can probably salvage some of the promises, but we would also seek to raise private equity in Jersey.

‘We feel very strongly that it is a Channel Islands’ project and should be done here. Film tourism is enormous, and so it would benefit the Channel Islands as a whole.

‘We are ready, we have a team together, and have some top-of-the-range actors whose names we can’t mention yet – but we are talking A-list.’

Previous adaptation

If Toilers of the Sea does go ahead, it would not be the first adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel to be filmed in Jersey.

The 1953 movie, Sea Devils, saw actors Rock Hudson and Yvonne De Carlo shoot scenes in several locations, including the beach behind Gorey Castle.

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